Posey, Walter Samson (1881–1973)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Walter Samson Posey, banker and civic leader, was born on April 19, 1881, near Cross Plains, Texas, the son of James Buchanan and Lucinda (Hudson) Posey. In 1891, he accompanied his parents, three brothers, and two sisters to Floyd County, where his father bought several choice sections and expanded his herds of cattle and Merino sheep. However, the panic of 1893, accompanied by a severe drought, greatly affected the family economically. As a result, thirteen-year-old Walter began gathering bleached buffalo bones and hauling them to Amarillo in exchange for supplies and groceries. After his father opened a general store in Floydada in 1895, Walter continued freighting supplies for several years. In 1895 he made what was probably the only sheep drive over the Panhandle cattle trails, when he drove his father's flock to market in Liberal, Kansas. By age sixteen, Walter had his own freight wagons and teams. His only college education occurred when he spend a semester at the Metropolitan Business College in Dallas. As time went on, the Poseys began taking the money neighboring cowboys brought in for "credit on the books." Initially they stored this money in Amarillo, but in 1899 James B. Posey opened a private banking house that later became the Floydada First National Bank. In 1900 Walter married Florence Boerner; they later adopted a daughter, Evelyn.

In 1901 the elder Posey, in partnership with Louis T. Lester of Canyon, opened a branch bank in Lockney, with Walter as cashier. When the partners bought the First National Bank of Lubbock in 1904, Walter was transferred there. Then, when Lester bought the bank's controlling interest in the spring of 1908, Walter Posey formed a partnership with O. L. Slaton, who had been one of First National's directors, and opened the Lubbock State Bank down the street. In 1914 Walter's father, brother Leslie, and two workmen were killed by noxious gases upon entering a silo too soon after dynamiting a boulder. A year later, after Lester had sold out to Amarillo capitalists, the First National Bank was consolidated with the Lubbock State Bank, which in 1921 was rechartered as the First National Bank of Lubbock. By that time Posey and Slaton had acquired a controlling interest, and Posey became the bank's vice president in 1925, its president in 1945, and its chairman of the board in 1953. In addition to his banking interests, Posey was among the group that pooled money for the establishment of Lubbock's first cotton gin in 1905. For several years he engaged in the feeder cattle business with J. D. Lindsey as a partner. He also maintained interest in early area oil developments and made a lifelong hobby of keeping up with news of the latest discoveries and explorations in order to buy mineral rights.

As a civic booster, Posey helped influence the building of the Santa Fe Railroad through Lubbock, served for twelve years as finance commissioner on the Lubbock City Council, and was also on the school board. He helped organize the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, of which he was president in 1922–23, and was among those who influenced the location of Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in Lubbock. He was also credited with prompting the city and county to buy the land on which Mackenzie State Recreation Area was later established. A charter member of the Lubbock Rotary Club, Posey served as its president in 1925. In addition, he joined the Methodist Church and served on its board of stewards. Because of his wide reading, penetrating insight, and earthy vocabulary, he came to be in wide demand as a speaker. Over the years, his leadership and emphasis on community spirit helped guide Lubbock through depressions, two world wars, and the devastating tornado of 1970. After the death of his first wife in 1932, Posey married Hallie Carlton, who also preceded him in death. He died at the age of ninety-two on April 21, 1973, and was interred in the City of Lubbock Cemetery. An elementary school in Lubbock bears his name. The Posey family is also the source of the name of the Posey community, southeast of Lubbock.

Seymour V. Connor, ed., Builders of the Southwest (Lubbock: Southwest Collection, Texas Technological College, 1959). Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, April 19, 1971, April 23, 1973. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

H. Allen Anderson, “Posey, Walter Samson,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 27, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/posey-walter-samson.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995